The latest projections for U.S. healthcare spending through 2019 show little change from an estimate released before Congress passed health reform laws to expand insurance to 32 million uninsured. The CMS said health spending under the laws' many provisions will climb 6.3% per year, on average, compared with 6.1% per year prior to the law, a 0.2 percentage point increase. The projections were released online by the policy journal Health Affairs.
Little change expected in health spending
Health spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product will reach 19.6% by 2019 under provisions in the health reform law, the projections show. Prior to the law, health spending was projected to account for 19.3% of the economy by the end of the decade.
The cost of expanded insurance enrollment is largely offset by reduced payments to Medicare providers and Medicare Advantage plans and the cost-containment efforts of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, said Stephen Heffler, director of the CMS National Health Statistics Group. Also offsetting costs of fewer uninsured are “relatively lower prices” for patients who gain benefits from the safety net insurer Medicaid, the CMS authors said. Half of the newly insured will gain coverage from expanded Medicaid eligibility.
Projections rely on the same economic and demographic information from last February, but also take into account extended insurance subsidies for laid-off workers and changes to Medicare physician payments, the report said.
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